Europe – Part 11

1

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

 

For the last post of this series, I thought I would provide some info I used for planning my Europe trip, and that may be of help for your travelling adventures. Included are the following: Resources, research, websites, packing lists and travel quotes to inspire you in your travels.

 

Resources to use:

Research:

  • Go to the library and take out books on your destination to become familiar with the places and culture of where you’ll be travelling
  • Search Google and get “well-versed” online!
  • Check out the places you’ll be seeing & see pictures ahead of your trip. That way, when you’re there you’ll be able to recognize these famous landmarks and know something about them
  • Talk to other people who have travelled in general, and people who have been where you are going, in particular. Get additional tips, cost saving’s, the “inside scoop”, recommendations of what to do and what not to do, etc

2

Travel Websites:

3

Packing Lists:

6

More Quotes on Travelling:

9

Advertisements

Europe – Part 10

Most Impactful: Island of Patmos

IMG_3523

Entrance to The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian

“I, John…was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God.”
– Revelations 1:9, ESV

IMG_3508

The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, at the top of Patmos

 

Having been part of the ‘party-culture’ tour that I was on, I was in desperate need of spiritual nourishment. I was able to find this, in part, on the Island of Patmos.

There was some confusion and miscommunication for this excursion I was signed up for, and I almost missed being able to go. After some determination, I was able to see and experience the place where the Apostle John spent the remaining days of his life and the great work that God did through him, whereby writing the last book of the Bible, Revelations.

IMG_3562

Looking towards the Aegean Sea, while standing on the Island of Patmos

IMG_3506

Windmills on Patmos

 

The Island of Patmos, offers 2 historic and Biblically-rich places: The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian & The Cave of the Apocalypse. I was able to see both.

  • The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian
    – A monastery dedicated to John the Apostle
    – Is quite large in size, with 2 levels
    – Sits at the apex of the island and looks like a medieval castle
    – It feels like you’re going on a pilgrimage as you walk up higher and higher to reach the entranceIMG_3563IMG_3560IMG_3559IMG_3540IMG_3527IMG_3539IMG_3524
  • The Cave of the Apocalypse
    – It is located half-way up the mountain of Patmos
    – Is the place where John the Apostle received his visions from the Lord, as recorded in the book of Revelations
    – Is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with The Monastery of Saint John the Theologian
    – Once there, you take a steep set of stairs down to the caveIMG_3572IMG_3565IMG_3569IMG_3568

Also cool, the opening and closing scene of the movie, Son of God, are filmed on the Island of Patmos. Released by 2oth Century Fox, the movie is a major motion picture to be shown on the big screen. From the producers of The Bible miniseries, Mark Burnett & Roma Downey, the movie is scheduled to be released on February 28, 2014.

Here is the link for the official trailer, with the poster below: Son of God

Son_Of_God_poster_small

Europe – Part 9

Countdown: Top 5 Places & Why

#1: London

IMG_7064

Changing of the Guards, Buckingham Palace

“It’s important that God often saves us from ourselves.”
– Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom,
Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen,
Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

 

At the end of travelling Europe for 5 weeks I had the opportunity to conquer London in one week. I stayed with long-time family friends who graciously opened there “flat” for me, right in the heart of downtown London (it was only a 10 minute walk to Buckingham Palace.) In that week I was able to see more than 25 of London’s top sites.

Here are but some of the highlights:

 

  • Big Ben & Westminster Bridge – crossing this famous bridge is an experience: one way will bring you to Big Ben and the Parliament buildings, the other way gives you access to the London Eye & if you stand in the middle of the bridge on the sidewalk you will have an uninhibited view of the River Thames
    IMG_7392
  • London Eye – a huge, enclosed ferris wheel with a 360 degree view out the cabin windows, with a wooden circular platform to sit on if you don’t want to stand; got to see the city from above on a very clear day
    IMG_7409
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral – an enormous, majestic cathedral with very high ceilings. I could literally sense and feel the presence of God in this place; walked the winding staircases up to the 3 galleries: Whispering Gallery (257 steps up); Stone Gallery (376 steps up), & the Golden Gallery (528 steps up). From outside the top gallery, I could see the city for miles with the River Thames meandering through it. The crypt, or basement, stores the burial grounds of some of London’s most famous people, including the likes of: Lord Nelson, Sir Christopher Wren ( the architect of St Paul’s), & Lord Wellington
    IMG_7463IMG_7466
  • River Thames – went on a boat cruise on this well-recognized river. The vessel took us from the London Eye to Tower Bridge, and back again, stopping to see the Tower of London. It is an eye-opening experience, as on either side of the Thames there are famous buildings, landmarks and monuments, not to mention passing under the many bridges that London affords
  • Trooping of the Colors – is an annual ceremony celebrating the official birthday of the British monarch. This tradition, since 1748, is also referred to as “The Queen’s Birthday Parade”. Essentially, each year on a Saturday in June, the Queen rides her royal carriage from Buckingham Palace down The Mall and back again, & leads the Royal Family out on the royal balcony of the palace for the grand finale of the Royal Air Force flypast
    IMG_6308
  • Trafalgar Square – an enormous, wide-open square that has 2 large fountains with very blue water, huge lion statues that greet you at the entrance, with the Canada House right next to the square, and of course Lord Nelson’s column, an Olympic digital timer on site counting down the number of days until the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, & culminates with the National Gallery standing at the pinnacle of the square
    IMG_6428trafalgar
  • Metropolitan Tabernacle – this is the actual Reformed Baptist church where the world-famous, highly-accomplished, and well-loved Charles Haddon Spurgeon held his pastorate and led his congregation from the pulpit. For 38 years Spurgeon pastored this church and under his ministry tens of thousands were converted to God under the preaching of the Word. In its day, it seated 5,000 people and was by all accounts & standards, a megachurch. Spurgeon was enormously productive during his lifetime as John Piper has said, “I think the word “indefatigable” was created for people like Charles Spurgeon”, and his influence was such that Mark Driscoll says he is “[t]he greatest Bible preacher outside of Scripture.” Located at Elephant and Castle, I got to attend a Sunday evening service and had the tremendous honor of walking through the very church where Charles Spurgeon preached in & where God worked mightily through this one particular man. 

IMG_6882
Spurgeon & I (below)

IMG_6906

  • Westminster Abbey – during my tour of this famous Gothic church, I noticed it has fascinating side rooms loaded with tons of history and containing the “who’s-who” of British history. It houses the grave sites of prominent people, such as: Sir Isaac Newton, Handel, William Wilberforce, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth I of England, to name a few. Also notable, the last thing you see before leaving the Abbey is Winston Churchill’s memorial (his memorial service was at St. Paul’s Cathedral & he is buried in Bladon churchyard.)
    IMG_7414
  • Tower of London – had a fun time checking out the Crown Jewels and other nifty war weapons (though I was a little disappointed there weren’t any demonstrations being offered.) The grounds were cool to explore and were sloped up from the banks of the River Thames. It was a really cool experience being inside this humongous and well-kept castle.
    IMG_7268
  • Tower Bridge – a perfectly symmetrical, war-like bridge that hinges in the middle to allow large boats and vessel carriers to pass through & is located on the River Thames, right after the Tower of London
    IMG_7203
  • Churchill War Rooms – a fascinating history crash-course of Churchill’s involvement during WWII. This was the very place (bunker) where Churchill set up camp & commanded the British government from during the war. I got to see Winston’s private quarters (where he slept and ate his dinners) & saw the attached museum for more learning about this highly influential 20th century giant.
    IMG_6980
  • Covent Garden, Leiscester Square, Piccidilly Circus, Regent Street & Oxford Street – each of these sites are all interconnected and I couldn’t believe how short a distance it is to walk through each of them
  • City bus tour – went on double-decker bus & sat on top deck with the open-air and took in a scenic and educational ’round-trip of this beautiful city of London
    IMG_6597
  • Theatre show – went to see a great performance of “Billy Elliott” in the West End theatre, Victoria Palace
    IMG_7590
  • Windsor Castle – as the oldest working castle in the world, it has been said this is the Queen’s preferred residence as she is away from the busyness of London life and her administrative duties. It has very large grounds with lots to walk around and see & is located about an hour drive directly west of London, in the suburbs.IMG_7784
  • The Queen – really enjoyed learning more about the royal family and the Queen herself. The timing was perfect as I was able to take part in celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as she has ruled for 60 years in 2012 as the British monarch (2nd only in length to her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria who reigned for 63 years and seven months.) I had the privilege of seeing the Queen on two occasions, one at Buckingham Palace, and the other at Windsor Castle.
    IMG_6228

London Quotes:

“Mind the gap.” – London Underground (AKA: “the Tube”)

“This is London.” – Edmund H. North

“London, thou art the flower of Cities all.”
– William Dunbar, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 18th Edition

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 18th Edition

IMG_7657

Making a friend at Windsor Castle

“The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.”
– Oscar Wilde

“It is not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them. The walls of London may be battered, but the spirit of the Londoner stands resolute and undismayed.” – George VI

IMG_7473
Front entrance to St. Paul’s Cathedral

“The best bribe which London offers to-day to the imagination, is, that, in such a vast variety of people and conditions, one can believe there is room for persons of romantic character to exist, and that the poet, the mystic, and the hero may hope to confront their counterparts.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.”
– Samuel Johnson

“I’ve been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.” – Walter Besant

“The streets of London are paved with Gold.” – Proverb

“The world can never be in the state of right order, strong government, and good influence unless London is truly and literally established as its capital.” – Kedar Joshi

IMG_7497

City view from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral

“America is a nation with no truly national city, no Paris, no Rome, no London, no city which is at once the social center, the political capital, and the financial hub.”
– C. Wright Mills

“Ambition is contagious. Be driven.” – London billboard

“I try not to take myself so seriously.” – Her Majesty The Queen, Elizabeth II

Europe – Part 8

Countdown: Top 5 Places & Why

#2: Croatia

IMG_4317

Dubrovnik main street

“[Dubrovnik is] the pearl of the Adriatic.” – George Bernard Shaw

IMG_4314

Dubrovnik city walls looking out towards the Mediterranean Sea


We visited 3 Croatian cities: Dubrovnik, Split & Zadok. Of these, Dubrovnik was my favorite and spent the most time there.

  • Dubrovnik
    – Famous for its red-lined rooftops and fortified walled city, with the main square contained within (AKA: “Old Town”)
    – Had a super fun time exploring city interiors & adventuring its many side streets (and getting lost)
    – Very impressed with how clean and shiny the streets were, considering the city has no roof
    – Spectacular views of the ocean and the waves crashing mightily on the rocks on both ends
    – Adventurous time walking the walls around the top of the city (took 50 minutes and beat the minimum time by 10 min)
    – Took ferry to 2 different islands and had a blast diving off high end of the bow into crystal clear watersIMG_4308
  • Split
    – Quick stop but managed to snag a pix with a Dalmatian dog & win the proverbial tour competition
    – Split is the largest Dalmatian country from where the famed dog received its name
  • Zadar
    – Walked along ocean front and listened to “Sea organ”, where waves crash against marble steps and plays music from holes ingrained in stair steps (is really relaxing to listen to, especially with the sweet ocean view before your eyes)

IMG_4476

Mediteranean Sea backdrop in Zadar, with Sea Organ to the left


Croatia Quotes:

“Give me 100,000 Croatian soldiers and I will conquer the entire world.” – Napoleon

“You may boast to strangers, but tell the truth to your own people.” – Croatian Proverb

IMG_4246

Side street in Dubrovnik

“Those who seek paradise on Earth, should come and visit Dubrovnik.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Without suffering, there is no learning.”  – Croatian Proverb

“Morning is smarter than evening.” – Croatian Proverb

IMG_4360

Dubrovnik harbour look-out

IMG_4256

Inside Old Town, Dubrovnik

IMG_4338

Peeking out into the Mediterranean atop Dubrovnik city walls

IMG_4322

High up on Dubrovnik city walls

Europe – Part 7

Countdown: Top 5 Places & Why

#3: Greek Islands – Santorini

IMG_3886

“There is nothing like being on the island of Santorini; it is breathtaking, beautiful, and beyond the breath of human words.” – Author’s quote

 

With a break from our land tour, I got to go to 6 Greek Islands over a 4 day sea excursion. It was my first time on a cruise ship (these things are massive and have almost-anything-containing awesome one could think of.) We started in Athens and went to these following islands: Mykonos; Kusadesi,Turkey; Patmos; Rhodes; Crete & Santorini. Of these, Santorini was my most favorite Greek Island. Mykonos was a close second, as it was very similar to Santorini in its blue and white colors. Overall, I loved the experience of island hopping!

IMG_3855

Santorini hillside

 

Santorini Highlights:

  • Coming into the island of Santorini from the Aegean Sea is magnificent. I got to watch the grand entrance from the top deck of our cruise ship, pressed against the center of the front railing.  It was a very clear, blue-skied day and in the distance a top the mountain all I could see was the color white before my eyes. I thought it was snow and my first thought was, “I should’ve brought my skis to go skiing, how cool would that be?” Oblivious to the summer temperatures, it then dawned on me that this white stuff wasn’t snow; it was the signature white-washed buildings Santorini is famous for
  • Our cruise boat docked in the middle of the ocean & we took a small ferry to land. From there, we got on a Greyhound bus which took us up the mountain on switchbacks roads. Once at the top, we made our way to Oia and passed through the capital, Fina
  • I got to walk along the cliff walls in Oia (pronounced: “ee-uh”) with the piercing blue Aegean sea as our backdrop. The sights and views were like nothing I’ve ever seen
  • We were very fortunate to have seen this island on a perfect day and to see amazing, clear views for miles into the open water’s and beyond
  • The experience was everything how the island is portrayed: Blue and white domed buildings built into the side of a cliff, and of course, an endless view of blue, uninhabited ocean waters set before our eyes
  • Our time ended heading back to the cruise ship during sunset with the beautiful, dawning colors lighting up the red rocks of the mountain. I remember seriously contemplating jumping off the ferry boat into the water and swimming back to land, as this island had so gripped my heart that I did not want to leave

IMG_3778

Entrance into Santorini from the Aegean Sea

IMG_3926

Sunset on Santorini

IMG_3928

Boarding cruise ship at sunset

 

Greece Quotes:

“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.” – Euripides

“Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean sea.” – Nikos Kazantzakis

“I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” – Socrates

“I have never come across someone who could inspire more respect than the Greek philosophers.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

IMG_3880

 

“If in the library of your house you do not have the works of the ancient Greek writers, then you live in a house with no light.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.” – Sir Winston Churchill

“How can any educated person stay away from the Greeks? I have always been far more interested in them than in science.” – Albert Einstein

“Of all peoples the Greeks have dreamt the dream of life best.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

IMG_3872

IMG_3837

 

“Greece is the mother of science and the source of knowledge.” – Moses of Chorene

“I would prefer to be a Greek, rather than a heir apparent of a throne.” – Ludwig I, King of Bavaria

“The ancient Oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks. It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that I know nothing.” – Socrates

“In every island of the Aegean Sea are found abundant traces of a vast prehistoric empire.” – James Theodore Bent

IMG_3825

IMG_3871

Europe – Part 6

Countdown: Top 5 Places & Why 

#4: Rome, Italy

IMG_2986

Coliseum exterior

“All roads lead to Rome.” – Chaucer, 1391

IMG_3010

Coliseum interior



City highlights:

  • Coliseum
    – A very cool experience being able to see the historic structure from Gladiator
    – Had a fun time exploring the inside of the amphitheatre & got to see part of the stage and sections underneath
  • Roman Forum
    – Large ancient ruins of architectural remains of what once was the center of public life in Rome
    – Got to walk on the roads where these greats walked: Julius Caesar, Maximus Decimus Meridius & Marcus Aeralius
    – Had an awesome tour guide; she was passionate and extremely knowledgeable about this type of history, and with a Master’s in Classical History she brought Rome to life!
    IMG_2966
  • Trevi Fountain
    – People from all over the world come to see this famous landmark
    – Is one of the most famous fountains in the world & an estimated 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day
    – The big idea: Make a wish and throw a coin in your right hand over your left shoulder into the water & one day it may come true
    IMG_2698                                                                                                                             
  • The Vatican
    – Sistine Chapel: a huge room, full of extraordinary painting’s, which houses some of Michaelangelo’s most famous works, not to mention the ceiling masterpiece he painted (which took over 4 years to complete)
    – St. Peter’s Basilica: got to walk through this Late Renaissance church & has a very large square outside surrounded by numerous columns (colonnades)
    – Vatican Museum: contains sculptures and other famous art works from the Renaissance era
  • Spanish Steps
    – A cool looking design and is apparently the widest staircase in Europe

IMG_2779

Outside Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel

IMG_2908

St. Peter’s Square with St. Peter’s Basilica & Sistine Chapel in background

IMG_2831

Overlooking St. Peter’s Square from St. Peter’s Basilica



Other quotes on Rome:

“While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls – the World.” – Lord Byron

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” – Proverb

“Every one soon or late comes round by Rome.” – Robert Browning

“Rome was not built in a day.” – Jean de La Fontaine

“I came, I saw, I conquered. [Latin: Veni, vidi, vici.]” – Julius Caesar

“What we do in life echoes in eternity.” – Maximus, Gladiator

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.” – Emperor Augustus Caesar

“Her smile, I’m sure, burnt Rome to the ground.” – Mark Z. Danielewski

“In Rome it seems as if there were so many things which are more wanted in the world than pictures.” – George Eliot

“Civis Romanus sum.” (I am a Roman citizen) – Cicero

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
– Marcus Aurelius

Europe – Part 5

Countdown: Top 5 Places & Why

#5: Paris, France

IMG_1153

Eiffel Tower

“Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn

City highlights:

  • Eiffel Tower
    – Is an enormous, bronze statue
    – Took elevator up to first deck & took stairs the rest of the way to the top
    – There are 3 platforms
    – The 2nd observatory deck offers the best view of the city
    – It is, of course, definitely a tourist haven but is a must-see when visiting this iconic city
  • The Louvre
    – One ginormous museum with 3 separate wings
    – It would take 1 full year to go through and read/see everything the museum has to offer
    – Has a really cool entrance: a glass pyramid
    – Got to see the Mona Lisa and other famous art pieces while exploring the museum with a family friend I met up with while there

IMG_1495
The Louvre

  • Arc de Triomphe
    – An insane 8 lane traffic circle
    – It really is a  crazy intersection; an accident happens there every 15 min’s (our tour bus driver actually sped up into the traffic circle!! And we didn’t get smoked)
    – You have to go underground in order to get to the top and once through there are some really sweet views to be seen of this magnificent city
  • Notre Dame Cathedral
    – Didn’t get to go…guess I’ll just have to come back another time
    – We only had one day to explore 4 of Paris’ top sites and we batted 0.750IMG_1378

View of city from the Eiffel Towel

Other Paris quotes:

“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”
– Thomas Jefferson

To know Paris is to know a great deal.
– Henry Miller

London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.
– G. K. Chesterson

There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even – the French air clears up the brain and does good – a world of good.
– Vincent Willem van Gogh

The chief danger about Paris is that it is such a strong stimulant.
– T.S. Eliot